Now that we are officially into Fall, our thoughts have begun to move ahead to cooler weather and shorter days. There are few things more beautiful than Autumn in New York, but, before we fully embrace the beauty of Fall, we must take a moment and discuss an ugly by-product of Summer: skin cancer.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in four Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. With that statistic in mind, June has been designated as the National Skin Cancer Awareness Month with the generally held belief that pre-Summer reminders about the importance of sun safety are enough to reduce the increasing occurrence of this form of cancer. Is this enough? Statistics indicate that it is not.
Whether at the beach or on the streets, New Yorkers spend a lot of time in the sun. If you spent any length of time soaking up the sun’s rays the past couple of weeks, here are three things you need to consider:
Skin Cancer Can Be Fatal. Each year, millions of Americans have suspicious or cancerous legions removed. Of the 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually, less than 100,000 are melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer). Because of this lower incidence rate, many have mistakenly begun to feel that skin cancer is not a fatal form of cancer. Every hour one American dies from melanoma. Reasoning that this could never happen to you or your loved ones could mean your life.
Minorities Can Develop Skin Cancer. For many darker-skinned minorities, the belief is held that the deeper pigment in their skin is all the protection they’ll ever need from the sun. This is simply not true. In efforts to bring awareness to the fallacy of this line of reasoning, beauty brand Neutrogena created a public service announcement featuring African-American actress Gabrielle Union.
If you are a darker-skinned individual, do not ignore suspicious legions! It could save your life. A famous example of this is of the renowned reggae singer Bob Marley. His doctor mistook a suspicious legion under his toenail for a soccer injury. That early stage of skin cancer spread throughout his body and ended his life at 36.
Children and Teenagers Can Develop Skin Cancer. For years, awareness groups have stated that one sunburn during youth can greatly increase your chances of developing skin cancer later in life. However, the diagnosis of melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – is on the rise among men and women ages 15 to 29. In rare occurrences, babies have even been diagnosed with skin cancer.
So before you reach for the latest fall fashions, take a moment to do a head-to-toe check for suspicious legions. If you see any legion with abnormal color or symmetry, make an appointment with a Dermatologist immediately. Whether you are light or dark, young or old, saying goodbye to Summer by giving yourself a thorough once-over can save your life.
About the Author:Dr. Sunanda Chugh is the Founder and Medical Director of Anand Medical Spa and has been practicing in NYC since 2004. She is a graduate of Cornell University and has completed her training at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital/Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Chugh has worked and trained with top Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists in NYC. Her special interest on the effect of the aging process on the face and body inspired her to specialize in Aesthetic Medicine.